Tawfiq Alhamedi talks at a table.By Kirsten Dahl ’19

For Tawfiq Alhamedi ’17, presenting his findings on Islamic economic and cultural exchange around the Indian Ocean at this year’s National Conference for Undergraduate Research (NCUR) was a highlight of his college career.

“My research was personally meaningful because it gave me the opportunity to delve deeper into cultures I only knew on the surface growing up,” he says. “In the classroom the world of the Indian Ocean, Yemen, and inter-Global South migration are generally understudied.”

Alhamedi was among 19 Lafayette students to present at NCUR, hosted this spring by the University of Memphis. The annual conference invites undergraduate scholars from all over the country to share their research on a myriad of subjects, which among Lafayette students ranged from the experience of Muslim women in France to breakthroughs in biochemistry.

Tawfiq Alhamedi stands in front of a Lafayette College sign

Lafayette participants presented insights from senior honors theses, independent studies, and projects conducted through the EXCEL Scholars program, in which students collaborate with professors on research while receiving a stipend. EXCEL students make meaningful contributions while assisting faculty, which in some cases for the students results in coauthored publications in peer-reviewed journals and even conference presentations within the professor’s discipline.

Alhamedi worked closely with the staff at Skillman Library in an interdisciplinary study based in his major of anthropology and sociology. His thesis revolves around the travels of Ibn Battuta, a renowned world traveler who provided a historic lens into trade cities around the Indian Ocean. Alhamedi’s analysis of what is known as the Hadhrami diaspora challenges the Eurocentric economic and world histories that assume Muslim contributions to them were on a small scale. The research connects the Hadhrami diaspora, a migration driven by both trade and religious quests, to significant economic and cultural developments in the region, all examined within the context of Battuta’s travels.

“By presenting narratives of the Hadhrami diaspora at NCUR I hoped to bring the Indian Ocean and its global connectivity to the forefront of how we understand the world today,” he says.

Alhamedi hopes his extensive research will cast light on the importance of the interconnected Indian Ocean as well as the role Hadhrami migrants played as merchants, religious scholars, jurists, and cultural ambassadors.

A list of the projects presented by Lafayette students at NCUR, their majors, and their mentors:

Tawfiq Alhamedi ’17 (Bronx, N.Y.), double major in anthropology and sociology
“The Hadhrami Diaspora: Islam and Indian Ocean Connectivity”
Abstract
Sarah Morris, research and instructional librarian

Tamerlane Asher ’17 (Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.), double major in mathematics and German
“What Have You Done for Me Lately? A Model of Past Performance on Major League Baseball Player Compensation”
Abstract
Matthew Larsen, assistant professor of economics

Neysa Braimah ’17 (Jamaica, N.Y.), double major in economics and policy studies
“The Effectiveness of the Best-Practices Approach to Getting Institutions Right in African Countries”
Abstract
David Stifel, professor of economics

Allyssa Conner ’18 (Plymouth Meeting, Pa.), biochemistry
“Synthesis and Electrochemical Properties of N-Heterocyclic Carbene Complexes”
Abstract
Roxy Swails, assistant professor of chemistry

Mary-Elizabeth Connors ’18 (Sudbury, Mass.), geology
“Relative Age and Formation of a Phreatomagmatic Diatreme in the Mandamus Igneous Complex, New Zealand”
Abstract
Samuel Hampton, lecturer, University of Canterbury

Nicole Crilley ’17 (Cedar Grove, N.J.), economics
“The Effect of the PACE Program on Health Outcomes of the Elderly in the United States”
Abstract
Susan Averett, Dana Professor of Economics

Daniel Crowley ’17 (New Canaan, Conn.), double major in economics and physics
“Market Inefficiencies in the Pricing of Loan Participation Close-End Funds”
Abstract
Donald Chambers, Walter E. Hanson/KPMG Peat Marwick Professor Emeritus of Business and Finance

Alexa Deemer ’17 (Bethlehem, Pa.), biology
“Characterization of the Role of the Large and Small Subunits and the Disulfide Bonds on Carbonic Anhydrase’s Activity”
Abstract
David Husic, Larkin Professor and head of chemistry

Nora Hand ’17 (West Linn, Ore.), double major in French and religious studies
“Muslim Women: A French Provocation”
Abstract
Eric Ziolkowski, Helen H.P. Manson Professor of Bible and head of religious studies

Tamar Jakeli ’17 (Tbilisi, Georgia), international affairs
“Feminist Activism and Women’s Rights in Georgia: 25 Years of Independence”
Abstract
Joshua Sanborn, professor and head of history

Hagar Kenawy ’17 (Easton, Pa.), chemical engineering
“Rolled PCL Meshes as Biocompatible Scaffolds for Ligament Repair”
Abstract
Lauren Sefcik Anderson ’04, associate professor and head of chemical and biomolecular engineering

Gabrielle Minassian ’17 (Rumson, N.J.), double major in economics and Spanish
“Debunking Welfare Myths: Factors that Lead Low-Income Women to Participate in Government Programs”
Abstract
Susan Averett, Dana Professor of Economics and Michelle Geoffrion-Vinci, professor and head of foreign languages and literatures

Catherine Newsom-Stewart ’18 (Brookfield, Conn.), biology
“GB4GV: A Genome Browser for Geminivirus”
Abstract
Eric Ho, assistant professor of biology

Marissa Rossi ’17 (Madison, Conn.), biology
“Parental Aggression in Relation to Egg and Nestling Quality in Eastern Bluebirds (Sialia Sialis), Tree Swallows (Tachycineta Bicolor), and House Sparrows (Passer Domesticus)”
Abstract
Michael Butler, assistant professor of biology

Travis Shoemaker ’18 (Allentown, Pa.), civil engineering
“Remote Sensing Approach to Upstream Slope Inspection”
Abstract
Michael McGuire, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering

Joshua Silver ’17 (Newton, Mass.), double major in economics and international affairs
“The Effects of Immigration on the Low-Skilled Labor Force in the United States”
Abstract
Matthew Larsen, assistant professor of economics, and James DeVault, professor and head of economics

Katherine Stevens ’17 (Fort Collins, Colo.), double major in economics and policy studies
“Incentivizing Quality in Government Healthcare Programs: Do Shared Saving Programs Improve Health Outcomes?”
Abstract
Susan Averett, Dana Professor of Economics

Andrew Wargofchik ’17 (Export, Pa.), government and law
“The Visegrad Curtain? Central Europe’s Response to the Immigration Crisis”
Abstract
Katalin Fabian, Professor of Government and Law

Katim Woldemariam ’17 (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia), double major in economics and government & law
“Agricultural Extension Services and Productivity of Farmers in Ethiopia”
Abstract
David Stifel, Professor of Economics

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